Author Topic: Northrop teams with Firefly  (Read 72823 times)

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Northrop teams with Firefly
« on: 08/08/2022 05:17 pm »
https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/northrop-grumman-teams-with-firefly-aerospace-to-develop-antares-rocket-upgrade-and-new-medium-launch-vehicle

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Northrop Grumman Teams with Firefly Aerospace to Develop Antares Rocket Upgrade and New Medium Launch Vehicle
   
CHANDLER, Ariz. – Aug. 8, 2022 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Firefly Aerospace have joined forces to provide an American-built first-stage upgrade for the Antares rocket and a new medium launch vehicle to serve commercial, civil and national security space launch markets.

“Through our collaboration, we will first develop a fully domestic version of our Antares rocket, the Antares 330, for Cygnus space station commercial resupply services, followed by an entirely new medium class launch vehicle,” said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager, launch and missile defense systems, Northrop Grumman. “Northrop Grumman and Firefly have been working on a combined strategy and technical development plan to meet current and future launch requirements.”

Firefly’s propulsion technology utilizes the same propellants as the current Antares rocket, which minimizes launch site upgrades. The Antares 330 will utilize seven of Firefly’s Miranda engines and leverage its composites technology for the first stage structures and tanks, while Northrop Grumman provides its proven avionics and software, upper-stage structures and Castor 30XL motor, as well as proven vehicle integration and launch pad operations. This new stage will also significantly increase Antares mass to orbit capability.

“Firefly prides itself on being a disrupter in the new space industry and collaborating with a proven space pioneer like Northrop Grumman will help us continue that disruption,” said Peter Schumacher, interim CEO, Firefly.

The Antares 330 performance upgrade will enable Northrop Grumman to continue to support the company’s current contracts while planning for future mission capabilities.

Firefly Aerospace is an emerging end-to-end space transportation company focused on developing a family of launch vehicles, in-space vehicles, and services to provide industry-leading affordability, convenience, and reliability to its government and commercial customers. Firefly's launch vehicles, combined with their in-space vehicles, such as the Space Utility Vehicle (SUV) and Blue Ghost Lunar Lander, provide the space industry with a single source for missions from LEO to the surface of the Moon and beyond.

Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #1 on: 08/08/2022 05:19 pm »
https://twitter.com/firefly_space/status/1556688871546568705

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🚀 Announcement: Exciting news today! Northrop Grumman and Firefly have joined forces to provide an American-built first-stage upgrade for the Antares rocket and a new medium launch vehicle to serve commercial, civil and national security missions.  news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/…

Offline trimeta

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #2 on: 08/08/2022 05:44 pm »
I wonder if the "entirely new medium class launch vehicle" will be partially or even fully reusable. It would almost have to be, since Antares is already a medium-lift launch vehicle, but one which likely can't be retrofitted with reusability, so a new clean-sheet reusable design is really the only reason to build something entirely new.

Offline StormtrooperJoe

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #3 on: 08/08/2022 05:45 pm »
Nice! Looks like Antares may have a future yet. It's a shame the Ukrainians are no longer able to participate for no fault of their own. Maybe Firefly can hire on some of the Ukrainian engineers?

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #4 on: 08/08/2022 05:54 pm »
https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/northrop-grumman-teams-with-firefly-aerospace-to-develop-antares-rocket-upgrade-and-new-medium-launch-vehicle
Quote
CHANDLER, Ariz. – Aug. 8, 2022 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Firefly Aerospace have joined forces to provide an American-built first-stage upgrade for the Antares rocket and a new medium launch vehicle to serve commercial, civil and national security space launch markets.
Great news! However, this announcement does not mention a schedule.

NorGrum has been flying two CRS-2 Cygnus flights a year. They have two Antares left, which can fly NG-18 (Q4 2022) and NG-19 (Q2 2023). They will need a new launcher by Q4 2023 to maintain the CRS-2 cadence. This seems unrealistic for a brand new launcher. Is there a plan for the Q4 2023 launch?

All options have problems:
--somehow produce a third Antares 230 (how??)
--use this newly-announced Antares 330  (very aggressive schedule)
--use the yet-to-be-flown Vulcan Centaur (agressive schedule)
--use an Atlas V borrowed from the Boeing or Kuiper allocations.  (possible contractual issues)
--NASA substitutes a Cargo Dragon. (lost revenue for NorGrum, reliance on single source by NASA)

Other options?




Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #5 on: 08/08/2022 06:23 pm »
twitter.com/tgmetsfan98/status/1556706759116570626

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What appears to have actually happened here is that Firefly redesigned their future Beta rocket, now a bit bigger and using "Miranda" and "Viranda" engines (possibly just a rename of Reaver 2), and then agreed to sell Northrop Grumman the first stage of Beta to use on Antares.

https://twitter.com/tgmetsfan98/status/1556706760915828743

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The new stage is still kerolox, 4.3 meters in diameter, and uses seven Miranda engines.

Two flights of the current Antares rocket are scheduled for this fall and Spring of 2023. After this, the current Antares first stage will no longer be available.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #6 on: 08/08/2022 06:41 pm »
Interesting... There is some irony here, that the current first stage (built in Ukraine) will be replaced by a company that was rescued and revived by an Ukrainian. (who has since been forced out)

Hopefully there will be future opportunities for US-Ukrainian aerospace cooperation.
« Last Edit: 08/08/2022 06:49 pm by Lars-J »

Offline freddo411

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #7 on: 08/08/2022 06:59 pm »
https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/northrop-grumman-teams-with-firefly-aerospace-to-develop-antares-rocket-upgrade-and-new-medium-launch-vehicle
Quote
CHANDLER, Ariz. – Aug. 8, 2022 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Firefly Aerospace have joined forces to provide an American-built first-stage upgrade for the Antares rocket and a new medium launch vehicle to serve commercial, civil and national security space launch markets.
Great news! However, this announcement does not mention a schedule.

NorGrum has been flying two CRS-2 Cygnus flights a year. They have two Antares left, which can fly NG-18 (Q4 2022) and NG-19 (Q2 2023). They will need a new launcher by Q4 2023 to maintain the CRS-2 cadence. This seems unrealistic for a brand new launcher. Is there a plan for the Q4 2023 launch?

All options have problems:
--somehow produce a third Antares 230 (how??)
--use this newly-announced Antares 330  (very aggressive schedule)
--use the yet-to-be-flown Vulcan Centaur (agressive schedule)
--use an Atlas V borrowed from the Boeing or Kuiper allocations.  (possible contractual issues)
--NASA substitutes a Cargo Dragon. (lost revenue for NorGrum, reliance on single source by NASA)

Other options?


Have SX move a dragon flight forward in exchange for two Cygnus flights the following year

Same total number of flights for each provider

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #8 on: 08/08/2022 07:09 pm »
Bit more time to develop the new Antares for Cygnus:

https://twitter.com/joroulette/status/1556718378370359296

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New: Northrop Grumman has bought three Falcon 9 missions from SpaceX to launch its Cygnus cargo spacecraft, a spokeswoman says, as the company looks to replace Antares' Russian-made RD-181 engines with Firefly's Miranda engines.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #9 on: 08/08/2022 07:14 pm »
https://twitter.com/free_space/status/1556719445816610816

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Northrop says new Antares targeted to fly late '24--more than 1.5 yrs  after last Antares w/ Russian RD-181 engines is due to launch. To fill the gap, NG looking for other providers to launch an undetermined number of Cygnus freighters to ISS, NG's Kurt Eberly tells @AviationWeek

It seems Reuters has the scoop on the SpaceX flights

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #10 on: 08/08/2022 07:25 pm »
Bit more time to develop the new Antares for Cygnus:


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New: Northrop Grumman has bought three Falcon 9 missions from SpaceX to launch its Cygnus cargo spacecraft, a spokeswoman says, as the company looks to replace Antares' Russian-made RD-181 engines with Firefly's Miranda engines.
Doh! well that was obvious. I had somehow put NorGrum in the "anyone but SpaceX" category, but like OneWeb, I guess they think using F9 is not all that bad. Three launches gives them until Q2 2025 before the new rocket must be operational. The minor drawback is that CRS will be dependent on F9, but that's already true for CCP.

Offline Josh_from_Canada

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #11 on: 08/08/2022 07:33 pm »
The minor drawback is that CRS will be dependent on F9, but that's already true for CCP.

Dream Chaser launches on Vulcan and these F9 Cygnus flights don't start until H2 2023
Launches Seen: Atlas V OA-7, Falcon 9 Starlink 6-4, Falcon 9 CRS-28,

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #12 on: 08/08/2022 07:36 pm »
Partnership isn't all one way, NGIS have SRBs which could greatly enhance Beta performance if the two companies want to go after DoD missions. Lots of possibilities with this partnership, will be interesting to see how it plays out.
« Last Edit: 08/08/2022 09:52 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline trimeta

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #13 on: 08/08/2022 07:43 pm »
Partnership isn't all one way, NGIS have SRBs which could greatly enhance Beta performance if the two companies want to go after DoD missions. Lots of possibilities with this partnership, will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Frankly, this feels like the first step in a process which will lead to the headline "Northrop Grumman acquires Firefly."

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #14 on: 08/08/2022 07:45 pm »
The minor drawback is that CRS will be dependent on F9, but that's already true for CCP.

Dream Chaser launches on Vulcan and these F9 Cygnus flights don't start until H2 2023
If NASA will consider Vulcan to be operational in H2 2023, then Cygnus could also use it, probably more easily than using F9. Cygnus has already flown on Atlas V and the logistics for flying on Vulcan (vertical integration, late loading, etc.) should be basically the same as opposed to flying on F9.  But can NASA count on Vulcan being operational in time? To be operational for CRS, I think it must fly at least one and probably two test missions first.

Offline Comga

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #15 on: 08/08/2022 08:05 pm »
I wonder if the "entirely new medium class launch vehicle" will be partially or even fully reusable. It would almost have to be, since Antares is already a medium-lift launch vehicle, but one which likely can't be retrofitted with reusability, so a new clean-sheet reusable design is really the only reason to build something entirely new.

(my bold text)
Why not?
Falcon 9 was "retrofitted with reusability".
"Just add legs, gridfins, and cold gas thrusters". 
(Yeah, it's never that easy but they do have a working example to learn from as long as Miranda can be throttled sufficiently.)
Copy the ASDS like Blue Origin is claimed to be having done.
Heck!  Copy the Octograbber while they are at it (but change to a Hexagrabber {You heard it hear first!} for the six-fold symmetry.)
Possibly easier to do with the clean sheet design they are working with.
Then rely on the low internal cost of NG's Castor based second stage to drive down launch prices for payloads like Cygnus that can handle their own perigee raising, etc.

So Cygnus on Antares (200?) in Q4 2022 and Q2 2023
Cygnus on three Falcon 9's in Q4 2023, Q2 2024, and Q4 2024.
Cygnus on the new Antares 330 in Q4 2025 (three plus years from now) and beyond.
Good for them!
« Last Edit: 08/08/2022 09:00 pm by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Jim

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #16 on: 08/08/2022 08:06 pm »

If NASA will consider Vulcan to be operational in H2 2023, then Cygnus could also use it, probably more easily than using F9. Cygnus has already flown on Atlas V and the logistics for flying on Vulcan (vertical integration, late loading, etc.) should be basically the same as opposed to flying on F9.  But can NASA count on Vulcan being operational in time? To be operational for CRS, I think it must fly at least one and probably two test missions first.

NASA has no say in Cygnus use of Vulcan nor number of test missions.

Offline Jim

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #17 on: 08/08/2022 08:23 pm »
Still need a new pad and upperstage.  Wallops was a big mistake

Online JayWee

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #18 on: 08/08/2022 08:25 pm »
I wonder if the "entirely new medium class launch vehicle" will be partially or even fully reusable. It would almost have to be, since Antares is already a medium-lift launch vehicle, but one which likely can't be retrofitted with reusability, so a new clean-sheet reusable design is really the only reason to build something entirely new.

(my bold text)
Why not?
Falcon 9 was "retrofitted with reusability".
...
The minimum thrust requirement for landing prevents it. You can't throttle low enough with two RD-191 engines.
With 7 Miranda engines, probably yes.

Offline trimeta

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Re: Northrop teams with Firefly
« Reply #19 on: 08/08/2022 08:44 pm »
I wonder if the "entirely new medium class launch vehicle" will be partially or even fully reusable. It would almost have to be, since Antares is already a medium-lift launch vehicle, but one which likely can't be retrofitted with reusability, so a new clean-sheet reusable design is really the only reason to build something entirely new.

(my bold text)
Why not?
Falcon 9 was "retrofitted with reusability".
"Just add legs, gridfins, and cold gas thrusters". 
(Yeah, it's never that easy but they so have a working example to learn from as long as Miranda can be throttled sufficiently.)
Copy the ASDS like Blue Origin is claimed to be having done.
Heck!  Copy the Octograbber while they are at it (but change to a Hexagrabber {You heard it hear first!} for the six-fold symmetry.)
Possibly easier to do with the clean sheet design they are working with.
Then rely on the low internal cost of NG's Castor based second stage to drive down launch prices for payloads like Cygnus that can handle their own perigee raising, etc.

So Cygnus on Antares (200?) in Q4 2022 and Q2 2023
Cygnus on three Falcon 9's in Q4 2023, Q2 2024, and Q4 2024.
Cygnus on the new Antares 330 in Q4 2025 (three plus years from now) and beyond.
Good for them!

What's the thrust profile like on an Antares 330 (based on the numbers currently available for Firefly Beta)? My understanding was that the profile of the Falcon 9, with its high-thrust second stage, was particularly conducive to propulsive-landing reuse; this contrasts with Vulcan's profile, which made SMART reuse the only option.

The other question is whether the payload hit from adding reusability would impact the ability of the vehicle to carry Cygnus to orbit, which of course is its only role. And for that matter, if you're launching twice a year max, is it worthwhile to pursue reuse?

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